>Source: All Africa
Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice K. Gladys Johnson says she leaves the bench ‘saddened’ by an avalanche of corruption charges against the Judiciary, adding that she, too, was subjected to bribery attempt involving a law firm she did not name.
During a farewell reception in her honour last Thursday at the Temple of Justice, retired Justice Johnson said after she rejected the bribe, she was warned about the dangers of being ‘too straight’ in Liberia.
She said: “Somebody tried bribing me. I got so angry and cited their whole law firm, but they all came and denied. Few weeks after, a lawyer came to my office and said I’m here to give you some advice. He said Justice, you are too straight. I said so what is your advice? He said the people in this country don’t like people to be too straight. You’re too straight. I said to him. I should stop being straight? What a good advice? I said, I like that, you telling me I’m too straight. Thank God you are not saying I’m too weak. He said his uncle was straight and he is dead…”
The US State Department, in its 2010 Human Rights Report on Liberia, said judges and jurors demanded bribes for a not guilty verdict, while emphasizing that corruption is pervasive in the judicial system.
Continuing her statement, Justice Johnson said another aspect of corruption that is worrying entails officials siphoning millions intended for development and depositing the money in their private bank accounts:
“The corruption that I’m worried about in the country is the one that is carrying down our economy, where people take millions of dollars that have been allotted for schools, roads and hospitals and then they deposit it in their private accounts. Most of the time in their private bank accounts abroad because they don’t want for Liberians to know that they have much money in banks here. And that’s what is wrong seriously,” she said.
But the former Associate Justice rejected many of the criticisms directed at the Judiciary, contending that the key problem facing the judicial system is corrupt jurors. Announcing her intent to contest a seat in the Legislature in the scheduled elections, she said one of her first objectives is to sponsor a bill punishing jurors who accept bribes. Nevertheless, she appealed to lawyers and judges for a collective effort in giving the judiciary a better image, saying:
“So I’m asking lawyers and judges. Let us try to change this image that people have about this branch of government, that we are corrupt…I’m saddened each time I read the newspapers about how corrupt this judiciary is. It saddens me.”